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Commonly known as ALS, the condition is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, and it is always fatal. The affected motor neurons deteriorate and the brain and spinal cord lose their ability to send signals to muscles, which begin to atrophy. As muscles lose nourishment, those affected lose their ability to speak, move, eat and breathe. The average life expectancy of those afflicted with ALS is two to five years, and there is no cure.